Wheat Paste Instructions

Printing and Wheat Paste Instructions


Many print shops such as Kinkos have changed printers.

The old plotter printers are a electrostatic carbon process. (a large version of classic Xerox copy machines). These machines ( running on Windows 98)  would not accept extra large files ( over 100 megabits)

The new printers are standard inkjet technology. They accept large files. There is no need to as careful reducing file size. The dimensions of new printers dimensions are 36" inches wide (91.4 cm). ( the same as the old printer). 

Instructions below still are good. In fact the careful sizing below will produce a high quality print. One does not need to send a giant file. The reality of blow up technology is a bigger more higher resolution (dpi ) file does not make a better print at poster or mural size. Again the sizes below are more than enough pixels ( 5500 pixels on the short side).

 Find a copy shop with a large format plotter printer.  Most Xerox copy shops and office print centers have these printers, generally called a Architectural Plotter Printer, for engineer and architect drawings and plans. Ask for the “Over Sized Black and White Printing Services” for engineering prints and architectural plans. The printers’ dimensions are 36" inches wide (91.4 cm).  Schools, architectural practices and engineers all have this type of printer.  It prints on thin cheap paper that absorbs moisture (the wheat paste glue) and attaches well on textured surfaces (brick and wood) but does not adhere well to polished surface (glass and metal). 

 Note that coated, thick gauge paper does not work well for the wheat pasting processes, ( flour water sugar ) . Other glue types may work fine. 

The simple plotter images are cost effective and easy to make, amounting to less than $10.00 per large print.

This is the process street artists Shepard Fairey (www.obeygiant.com )  

and JR  (www.jr-art.net)  - www.artsy.net/artist/jr .

When pasting the images, I find words like " beautify”, “ephemeral”, “short term” and “just paper, flour, water and sugar”, and “washes right off with water” helps the public/owner/police understand your artistic mission.  However, words like “Street Art” or “Graffiti” tends to be met with stone cold looks by owners and or arrest. 

YouTube has instructional videos that may help but note that many of the videos available use expensive wallpaper glue.  Personally, I use flour, warm or hot water, and dash of sugar, mixed hard ( with a paint mixer attached to drill ) mixed to a thin pancake-batter like consistency. I choose not to heat or “cook” the mixture, others choose to heat the mixture.

Using a cheap, plastic broom (some people use paint rollers), coat the paste to the wall.  Apply the print to the surface and rub bubbles outwards from the center.  I choose to not overcoat the paste directly on top of the print.  Instead, I use a clear, floor acrylic to coat the top of the print itself and give it a final wipe with a rag.  You can find jugs of acrylic floor shine at most custodial / janitorial stores.

Preparing Images for the Printer:

For many old slow Plotter Printers ( most common is the ICe ) , the files should not be much bigger than 5500px on the short side (of the image).  Using greyscale is very important to reduce the size of the file.  Note that Adobe Lightroom’s grayscale is still a color file.  The image file must be a true greyscale file—not an RGB file.

This a electrostatic carbon process a large version of classic Xerox copy machines found at most copy shops.


I save the file as a "greyscale" image ( removing the color) sized to 5500 pixels on the shortest side.  Save your file as a pdf file—Plotter Printers love pdf files at 50mb or less and tend to freeze and stall with larger files. I keep the file size down to allow the printer to read the image quickly and easily and in general for easy sending. 

The file sized around 36” x 78” and at 150 DPI and 5500 pixels along the shortest side. SAVE AS PDF. The final PDF print file should be around 30-50mb.  If the file is much larger than this, you have not formatted your image correctly. Most likely not changed to Gray Scale. 

Recommended Image Dimensions:

Portrait 36in width x 48in high (91.4 cm width x 121.9cm height)

Landscape 48in width x 36in high ( 121.9cm width x 91cm height) 

Image resolution should have a DPI between 150-200 and 5500 roughly pixels on the shortest side.  This jpg file should be 2-4 mb closed (compressed) and 40-60 mb opened (uncompressed).

Why Xerox paper works: 

Xerox paper is thin and absorbs the paste and adheres well to uneven surfaces. The print does not smear, run or bleed when wet.  The process is carbon based and holds up well in weather and direct sunlight—even in direct UV light, the prints will not quickly fade.

Creating the Wheat Paste Glue:

Because the glue consists of just flour, water and dash of sugar, creating the wheat paste glue is simple and will cost less than $1.00/gallon to make. 

Tools needed:

•Drywall pales or buckets

•Large sponges/rags

•Work gloves (to quickly brush off wall of chipping paint and other objects)

•A set of cheap plastic brooms, mop heads or paint rollers (used to coat the paste to the surface) 

•Paint sticks or *best a hand drill with paint mixing attachment (to mix the wheat paste)

•White/Bleached flour or cornstarch

•White sugar

•Water (hot or warm)

•Acrylic floor shine

•Recommended: An electric drill with paint mixing tool (to easily mix the wheat paste)

Though it is just fine to mix the wheat paste with your hands and paint sticks

Combine flour (or cornstarch), sugar and slowly add water until the mixture reaches somewhere between the consistency of cream and pancake-batter.  The mixture needs to be thick enough to properly coat the surface without dipping off but thin enough to absorb into the paper. 

I have been successful without heating the mixture and just mixing the paste well with drill mixer.  However, some people will choose to heat the paste while mixing or use hot water.  Others will choose to make one thick “back paste” for the surface and a thinner paste to act as a “finishing paste”.  The thinner mixture is then used to wipe over the final adhered image, which absorbs through the paper and combines with the mixed paste on the back of the paper. 

Final finishing coat we use the clear acrylic floor shine as to give the image (after it has been adhered to the surface) a final wipe to clean the image and give it rain protection.   

Additionally, some will add a dollop of clear acrylic floor shine to the mixture for extra weather protection. 

Additional notes:

 To make a clear paste, use cornstarch and not flour.  The cornstarch makes the paste translucent in color rather than a brown pigmented color. 

 To reduce the danger of being apprehended when hanging unauthorized billboards or signage, wheat paste street artists frequently work in teams and use walkie-talkies or baby monitors to communicate quickly and effectively.

 I find words like " beautify and ephemeral, short term and just paper flour water and sugar, and washes right off with water...helps public / owner/ police  understand... Words like Street Art or Graffiti gets stone cold looks and or arrest. 

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